NHL Playoffs 2011: Power Ranking Each Team’s Dirtiest Checker

Jim MancariCorrespondent IMay 18, 2011

NHL Playoffs 2011: Power Ranking Each Team’s Dirtiest Checker

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    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 25: Steve Downie #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at St. Pete Times Forum on January 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Leafs 2-0. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Hard-hitting checks are part of the game of hockey, especially in the playoffs. A good hit can cause a turnover or rally a team to come from behind.

    However, sometimes players take checking a little too far, and often are reprimanded by the league.

    While some players act as agitators, their reputations quickly travel around the league as dirty players.

    Here is a power ranking of the dirtiest checker on each of the remaining NHL Playoff teams.

4. Milan Lucic, LW, Boston Bruins

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 14:  Adam Hall #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning is checked by Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins in the third period of Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 14, 2011 in Bos
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Though Zdeno Chara made headlines this season with a brutal hit, Boston Bruins left winger Milan Lucic isn’t afraid to lay his whole body into a check consistently.

    He’s already amassed 43 penalty minutes (PIM) during the playoffs, which is 20 more than next closest Bruin.

    Lucic is known for his physical style of play, which his teammates greatly appreciate. However, the league has been forced to take action against him.

    He was suspended for one game in the 2009 playoffs after cross-checking then-Montreal Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre—who we’ll hear more about shortly—in the head.

    He also sucker punched Florida Panthers defenseman Freddy Meyer this year, which earned him a $2,500 fine.

    Lucic will continue to serve as the Bruins enforcer throughout these playoffs.

3. Ben Eager, LW, San Jose Sharks

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 23:  Ben Eager #55 of the San Jose Sharks during the NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on February 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Sharks defeated the Penguins 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Though he has yet to score a point in these playoffs, San Jose Sharks left winger Ben Eager has been racking up the penalty minutes.

    Eager leads the Sharks with 21 PIM.

    The former Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks was known as a physical player, but an incident from this year developed his reputation as a dirty player.

    As a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, Eager sucker punched Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong from behind, and received a four-game suspension.

    The Sharks will rely on Eager to provide energy on the checking line for the rest of the playoffs.

2. Maxim Lapierre, C, Vancouver Canucks

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Maxim Lapierre #40 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Atlanta Thrashers at the Philips Arena on March 25, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The aforementioned Maxim Lapierre of the Vancouver Canucks has a rightful place on this list.

    He’s one of the top agitators in the game, which has caused other players to take penalties when playing against him.

    He too is no stranger to the penalty box, as he’s recorded 32 PIM during the playoffs.

    Lapierre earned his reputation while with the Montreal Canadiens. He was suspended four games in 2010 for checking San Jose Sharks forward Scott Nichol from behind into the boards.

    Nichol and Lapierre are facing each other in this series, so let’s see if revenge is sought.

    If Lapierre continues his instigating, this series should have plenty of fireworks.

1. Steve Downie, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 17:  linesman Brad Kovachik #71 breaks up a fight between Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins and Steve Downie #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Gard
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Right winger Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning was the easy choice for No. 1 on this list.

    Downie has a history of dirty checks, and nothing—except maybe another suspension—will stop him from wreaking havoc on other players.

    He’s recorded 22 PIM these playoffs, and that total is likely to increase against the Boston Bruins, who have a few agitators of their own.

    Downie has already received two separate 20-game suspensions in his brief career and several other fines for dirty hits.

    He was responsible for a major injury to Sidney Crosby in March 2010 after hitting him behind the knee.

    If he keeps it under control, Downie can be a valuable asset to a hot Lightning team.